EASTPORT, Maine — Beyond the magic of rooms filled with exotic, vintage or heirloom Christmas decorations, visitors to Eastport’s Holiday Homes tour this weekend were able to sense the deep history of the eight homes on the tour.
At the 205-year-old Hayden House, a ball was once held to mark the end of the War of 1812; John James Audubon was a frequent visitor to the Coolidge House, built in 1828; and the Poffley Residence, built in 1841, fell on hard times in the 1950s and was a dollar-a-night flophouse with a marijuana growing facility in its attic.
This weekend, however, the eight historic homes and buildings were dressed in their winter finery as the Eastport Chamber of Commerce sponsored the self-guided tour, which drew hundreds of visitors from across Maine and Canada.
Two of the structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: the Peavey Memorial Library, built in 1893, and the Todd House, built around 1775.
“It took me three weeks to get ready,” said Sydney Hungerford, who along with her husband, Richard Hungerford, owns the Hayden House.
Each of the homes on the tour has been restored and features historic details such as beehive ovens, mansard roofs, art glass sidelights, hooded moldings, pegged ridge beams, stone trimmings and “good morning” staircases.
When the Hungerfords bought their Federal- and Second Empire-style home 17 years ago, “it was a dump,” Sydney Hungerford said. Its 17 rooms now have been carefully restored, down to the individual fireplaces, carved moldings and tin ceilings.
For the holiday tour, the front parlor, dining room, music room and original kitchen were decorated — each room with its own tree or trees. Fires were set in three fireplaces, and even the butlers pantry had holiday glassware in place.
“The house doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Eastport,” is Sydney Hungerford’s attitude. “Now, nothing in this house is not gorgeous.”
Diana Boone of Eastport was on the home tour with children and grandchildren Saturday afternoon.
“It is just so wonderful how people have taken such care and love with these homes,” Boone said. “I love Eastport. I am a fifth-generation Eastporter. Eastport is filled with such creative people, and it is so nice to see the talents of the people here in town. It is also wonderful to hear the history of these homes. Everyone has a story to tell.”
Sydney Hungerford said she began removing items from the first floor nearly a month ago to make room for the holiday collections and decorations.
Nearly every window had its own themed holiday tree. There was an Oriental tree, a seashell tree and a cardinal tree. A sequined box collection was clustered under one tree, while a rustic tree in the kitchen was nestled in an antique quilt.
A sideboard showed off a collection of vintage bottle-brush trees while, in another room, a mantel held a bejeweled stocking filled with shiny, unique decorations.
“My joy in doing this is just to have everybody here,” Sydney Hungerford said. “They came from Bangor, Portland, everywhere! I get to hear all their stories and see how happy they are.”
Homeowners who opened their doors were Alison and Michael Hayward, the Hungerfords, Meg and Darrell Keay, Greg Noyes, Ruth McInnis, Jim Poffley, Jean and Tom Ries, and Dana Chevalier at the Peavy Memorial Library.